Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami has promised to comply with order of Federal High Court which directed the recovery of payment to former governors serving or have served as senators and ministers.
The order was made on Wednesday by Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo of the Lagos division of the Federal High Court in a judgment in a suit filed by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).
SERAP had approached the court for an order of mandamus to compel the Attorney General of the Federation to file action to challenge states’ pension laws for former governors and recover public funds collected by them in the interest of the public.
The group further sought an order directing the AGF to challenge the legality of states’ pension laws permitting former governors and other ex-public officials to collect such pensions.
Responding to the judgment, yesterday, Malami said the Federal Government will be guided by public interest in complying with the court order.
His position was contained in a statement made available to journalists by his Media aide, Dr. Umar Gwandu.
“We will work and be guided by the legalities of the case, the dictates of justice and public interest in complying with the judgment”, the minister said.
Twenty one states had at various times promulgated pension laws allocating huge benefits to their former governors despite public objection. They are Lagos, Akwa Ibom; Edo; Delta; Kano; Gombe; Yobe; Borno; Bauchi; Abia; Imo; Bayelsa; Oyo; Osun; Kwara; Ondo; Ebonyi; Rivers; Niger; Kogi; and Katsina.
Immediately affected by the order are five ministers in the cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari and nine senators. They are Babatunde Fashola (Lagos, Housing and Urban Development), Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom, Niger Delta), Chibuike Amaechi (Rivers, Transportation), Rauf Aregbesola (Osun, Interior) and Timipre Sylva (Bayelsa, State Petroleum).
Senators caught by the judgment are Theodore Orji (Abia), Kassim Shettima (Borno), Sam Egwu (Ebonyi), Danjuma Goje (Gombe) Rochas Okorocha (Imo), Ibrahim Shekarau and Kabiru Gaya(Kano) and Ibrahim Geidam (Yobe).